AFC East: Cato June
If you were to have asked me two weeks ago to rank the most unlikely Buffalo Bills signings this offseason, these players would have comprised my top five:
Two sources close to Crowell informed me in January there was no way he would return to the Bills after they placed him on injured reserve right before last season started.
The Bills made the controversial move because Crowell waited so long to decide he was going to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery that would have sidelined him a projected four to six weeks. But the Bills erased their leading tackler for the duration.
The Bills claimed they needed the roster spot. Logic implied vindictiveness.
But the Bills probably hurt themselves in the process. If they bring Crowell back after interviewing Jamie Winborn, Cato June and Freddy Keiaho, it will only underscore how much the Bills could have used him last year.
Based on the players they've hosted so far, a third running back and a linebacker are the Buffalo Bills' top unresolved needs in free agency.
Another running back the Bills brought to Orchard Park signed with somebody else Friday. Kevin Jones decided to remain with the Chicago Bears. The Bills previously hosted Fred Taylor, who chose the New England Patriots. DeShaun Foster has visited but remains unsigned.
Many see the Bills poking around at available running backs and wonder what this means for Marshawn Lynch, who could be facing a suspension. The NFL will take last summer's hit-and-run incident into account when deciding the proper punishment for Lynch's conviction for carrying a concealed weapon.
The Bills, however, are not thinking about unloading Lynch. The sentiment at One Bills Drive is he has made two mistakes, neither of which was worth waivers. Rest assured, Lynch is on a short leash, but the Bills haven't reached their breaking point.
Then why do the Bills need a third running back if they're keeping Lynch and have Fred Jackson?
The biggest reason is Lynch's likely suspension. The Bills will need someone to help Jackson carry the load, and they're not sold on Xavier Omon, who probably deserved to be cut last year but made the team as a rookie because Dwayne Wright couldn't hold onto the ball.
Whatever punishment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell dishes out will be served at the beginning of the season, and the Bills can't afford to get off to a slow start.
New York Jets
- Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post reports the Jets have re-signed kicker Jay Feely.
- Newsday's Erik Boland recounts the inspiring tale of how Jim Leonhard kept playing football.
New England Patriots
- Providence Journal writer Shalise Manza Young takes a look at the steroid double standard between football and others sports.
- Mike Reiss reports for the Boston Globe that New England hosted receiver Joey Galloway on Wednesday.
- The Boston Globe's Charles P. Pierce writes the only acceptable answer to the Matt Cassel/Mike Vrabel trade is clearing room for Julius Peppers.
- Mark Gaughan reports the Bills entertained running back DeShaun Foster and linebacker Cato June on Wednesday.
- Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports former Bills tight end Robert Royal is joining the Browns.
The Buffalo Bills continue to line up visits with free agents.
June is an intriguing possibility for the Bills. He's an undersized linebacker (6-foot, 227 pounds) at a time when the NFL is trending toward 3-4 schemes.
But the Bills still run a 4-3 defense and could use a weakside linebacker. June, who turned 29 in November, finished third in tackles for the Buccaneers with 104. He recorded five tackles for losses and intercepted a pass.
I wonder if Cato will have trouble playing in a stadium that has O.J. Simpson on its Wall of Fame. Sorry. I couldn't help myself.
If you play fantasy football, then you may have had your heart broken by Jones.
The injury-prone, former Detroit Lions starter rushed for 1,133 yards as a rookie and developed into one of the league's top receiving backs -- 61 catches in 12 games three years ago -- before tearing a knee ligament toward the end of 2007.
The Lions cut him. The Chicago Bears picked him up, but used him sparingly. In 11 games, he had only 34 carries for 109 yards.